‘Sopranos’ ratings beat most network shows

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/ Source: The Associated Press

The 11.9 million viewers who watched “The Sopranos” finale brought HBO to the edge of a historic feat: a show on a pay cable network available in about 30 million homes was more popular last week than all but one show on the far larger world of broadcast television.

Only the premiere of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” with 13 million viewers, did better, Nielsen Media Research said.

ABC, CBS and Fox are all available in 111 million homes for no extra charge, and nothing they aired last week did better than “The Sopranos.”

It was the fourth most-watched episode of “The Sopranos” since the epic mob drama premiered on HBO in 1999, and best since the 2004 season premiere. With on-demand services, multiple showings on HBO this week and DVR recording, it’s almost impossible to draw a bead on how many people will actually watch the finale.

And it seemed like everyone who watched had a strong opinion about the finale, which ended abruptly during a scene with Tony Soprano and his family at a diner.

With angry calls for creator David Chase to talk about his motives, he declined in an interview with The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J. posted on Tuesday. Chase grew up in New Jersey, where the series was set.

“I have no interest in explaining, defending, reinterpreting, or adding to what is there,” Chase told the newspaper.

“People get the impression that you’re trying to (mess) with them, and it’s not true. You’re trying to entertain them,” he said. “Anybody who wants to watch it, it’s all there.”

Chase also said he doubted he would make a movie version of the series. “I think we’ve kind of said it and done it,” he said.

“The Sopranos” finale topped both Game 2 of the NBA Finals (8.6 million) and the Tony Awards (6.2 million) in direct competition Sunday night, Nielsen said.